Ladies and gentlemen,
This year, the Covid-19 pandemic is presenting people worldwide with enormous challenges — privately, professionally and economically. When public life comes to a standstill, key industries temporarily cease to operate, and the avoidance of personal contact is paramount, then the anchors stabilizing a society start to come loose. Nothing is taken for granted. What went before was suddenly no longer certain.
Deutsche Bahn has proven its worth as a constant feature during this time and has highlighted the importance of the rail system. We were still operating. People were able to rely on us even in a crisis. We guaranteed the mobility and logistics needed for Germany and Europe, thereby ensuring some semblance of normality. We were driven by the guiding principle behind our Strong Rail strategy: to be there for our customers. This social responsibility is particularly important to us.
Financially, Covid-19 has hit us hard. The virus suddenly put the brakes on our path to success, after reporting record passenger numbers in January and February. A temporary drop in passenger numbers of up to 90 percent is not without its implications for a transport company. The same applies to freight transport, where the slump in global economic activity has left a deep mark. It is not until 2022 that we expect to return to anything close to the original plans of the pre-Covid-19 period. We will have to live with the economic aftermath of the crisis for a long while yet. Companies and owners, managers and employees, unions and operating partners — the extent of the financial challenge requires joint and
supportive action by all to continue the course of the Strong Rail strategy.
With prudent and consistent steps, we will forge the path ahead of us and steer DB Group back toward sustainable growth. In doing so, we will stick to our future investment plans. By further expanding our infrastructure, fleet and personnel, and relying even more heavily on the opportunities offered by digitalization, we are strengthening the heart of rail operations. At the same time, we are able to increase capacity and bring more transport to the rails.
We are getting enormous support and backing from our owner. The main thread running through all recent political decisions is the conviction that the railway will play a key role in shaping a worthwhile future. We are very grateful for this endorsement of everything we have done so far, and for the substantial strengthening of the rail system.
Aside from Covid-19, climate change continues to be a reality, and a massive shift in the mode of transport toward the rails is vital for a sustainable and successful climate and transport policy. We are and remain the guarantor of sustainable mobility and logistics.
The initial signs of recovery give us cause for cautious optimism. However, an exact prediction of how our business will develop is contingent on a number of general conditions that are still extremely fragile. Only one thing is certain: Covid-19 has shown how important the railway is for Germany and Europe.
We have received a lot of praise and recognition for having proven ourselves as a company and managing to maintain our products and services during the past challenging months. This is thanks to the employees of DB Group, who are doing an excellent job even under these exceptional conditions, and, of course, to our customers who have placed their trust in us.
Dr. Richard Lutz
CEO and Chairman of the Management Board
of Deutsche Bahn AG